June 27th, 2014

small shadowed

Actual civilised modern text editors for the Linux console [tech blog post, by me]

Long time, no post. This is because since April, I have started a new job where I actually get paid to write technical stuff for a living.

(Hint - I'm going to have to change that usericon...)

Anyway, this subject came up in conversation with my colleague Pavel recently. In my department, there are some Vi[m] advocates, at least one Emacs user in the wild (approach with caution), and when I said I used Gedit from choice, I got pitying looks. :¬)

Which gave me a chance to have my usual rant about the deep and abiding nastiness of both Vi and Emacs, which did at least provide some amusement. It also led Pavel to ask, quite reasonably, what I did want from a console/shell text editor that wasn't provided by, say, Joe, Nano or Pico.

I said CUA and then had to explain what CUA was, and pointed at SETedit, which I've linked to before. Sadly, it hasn't been updated in a while. Packages are only for old versions of popular distros.

This led him to look thoughtful and go off and do some digging. He came back with some gems.

Firstly, there's the rather fun Text Editors Wiki, which is not as comprehensive as it might be but has a lot of interesting reading.

First, he pointed me at XWPE. It certainly looks the part, but sadly the project seems to have died. I did get it running on Fedora 20 by installing some extra libraries and symlinking them to names XWPE wanted, but it crashes very readily.

After some more hunting, he also found eFTE, enhanced FTE. I rather like this. Not all the shortcuts do what I expect, but it works well nonetheless.

Incidentally, eFTE seems to be a fork of a no-longer-maintained older editor, FTE:

More recently, I've also discovered Tilde. It is currently maintained and has recent packages available. It looks a bit richer than eFTE, but sadly, the Alt key doesn't work in a window. Clearly this is a known issue as there's a workaround using Esc instead, but it makes it 2 keystrokes rather than one with a modifier.

I remain surprised that these things are obscure & little-known. I'd have thought that given how many people are moving from other OSes to Linux, a lot more MICROS~1 émigrés would have wanted such tools.